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Aiden Wilson Tozer PDF On Christian Principles


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    Born After Midnight

    by A. W. Tozer Chicago, Illinois


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    Born After Midnight Chapter 1

    AMONG REVIVALMINDED Christians I have heard the saying, "Revivals are born after midnight." This is one of those proverbs which, while not quite literally true, yet points to something very true. If we understand the saying to mean that God does not hear our prayer for revival made in the daytime, it is of course not true. If we take it to mean that prayer offered when we are tired and worn-out has greater power than prayer made when we are rested and fresh, again it is not true. God would need to be very austere indeed to require us to turn our prayer into penance, or to enjoy seeing us punish ourselves by intercession. Traces of such ascetical (self-denying) notions are still found among some gospel Christians, and while these brethren are to be commended for their zeal, they are not to be excused for unconsciously attributing to God a streak of sadism unworthy of fallen men. Yet there is considerable truth in the idea that revivals are born after midnight, for revivals (or any other spiritual gifts and graces) come only to those who want them badly enough. It may be said without qualification that every man is as holy and as full of the Spirit as he wants to be. He may not be as full as he wishes he were, but he is most certainly as full as he wants to be. Our Lord placed this beyond dispute when He said, "Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled." Hunger and thirst are physical sensations which, in their acute stages, may become real pain. It has been the experience of countless seekers after God that when their desires became a pain they were suddenly and wonderfully filled. The problem is not to persuade God to fill us, but to want God sufficiently to permit Him to do so. The average Christian is so cold and so contented with His wretched condition that there is no vacuum of desire into which the blessed Spirit can rush in satisfying fullness. Occasionally there will appear on the religious scene a man whose unsatisfied spiritual longings become so big and important in his life that they crowd out every other interest. Such a man refuses to be content with the safe and conventional prayers of the frost-bound brethren who "lead in prayer week after week and year after year in the local assemblies. His yearnings carry him away and often make something of a nuisance out of him. His puzzled fellow Christians shake their heads and look knowingly at each other, but like the blind man who cried after his sight and was rebuked by the disciples, he "cries the more a great deal." And if he has not yet met the conditions or there is something hindering the answer to his prayer, he may pray on into the late hours. Not the hour of night but the state of his heart decides the time of his visitation. For him it may well be that revival comes after midnight. It is very important, however, that we understand that long prayer vigils, or even strong crying and tears, are not in themselves meritorious acts. Every blessing flows out of the goodness of God as from a fountain. Even those rewards for good works about which

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    certain teachers talk so fulsomely, and which they always set in sharp contrast to the benefits received by grace alone, are at bottom as certainly of grace as is the forgiveness of sin itself. The holiest apostle can claim no more than that he is an unprofitable servant. The very angels exist out of the pure goodness of God. No creature can earn anything in the usual meaning of the word. All things are by and of the sovereign goodness of God. Lady Julian summed it up quaintly when she wrote, "it is more honor to God, and more very delight, that we faithfully pray to Himself of His goodness and cleave thereunto by His grace, and with true understanding, and steadfast by love, than if we took all the means that heart can think. For if we took all those means it is too little, and not full honor to God. But in His goodness is all the whole, and there faileth right nought. For the goodness of God is the highest prayer, and it cometh down to the lowest part of our need." Yet for all God's good will toward us He is unable to grant us our heart's desires till all our desires have been reduced to one. When we have dealt with our carnal ambitions; when we have trodden upon the lion and adder of the flesh, have trampled the dragon of self-love under our feet and have truly reckoned ourselves to have died unto sin, then and only then can God raise us to newness of life and fill us with His blessed Holy Spirit. It is easy to learn the doctrine of personal revival and victorious living; it is quite another thing to take our cross and plod on to the dark and bitter hill of self-renunciation. Here many are called and few are chosen. For every one that actually crosses over into the Promised Land there are many who stand for a while and look longingly across the river and then turn sadly back to the comparative safety of the sandy wastes of the old life. No, there is no merit in late hour prayers, but it requires a serious mind and a determined heart to pray past the ordinary into the unusual. Most Christians never do. And it is more than possible that the rare soul who presses on into the unusual experience reaches there after midnight.

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    The Missing Witness Born After Midnight - Chapter 2

    One cause of the decline in the quality of religious experience among Christians these days is the neglect of the doctrine of the inward witness. Stamping our feet to start the circulation and blowing on our hands to limber them up, we have emerged shivering from the long period of the theological deep-freeze, but the influence of the frosty years is suit felt among us to such an extent that the words witness, experience and feeling are cautiously avoided by the rank and file of evangelical teachers. In spite of the undeniable lukewarmness of most of us we still fear that unless we keep a careful check on ourselves we shall surely lose our dignity and become howling fanatics by this time next week. We set a watch upon our emotions day and night lest we become over-spiritual and bring reproach upon the cause of Christ. Which all, if I may say so, is for most of us about as sensible as throwing a cordon of police around a cemetery to prevent a wild political demonstration by the inhabitants. We who hold the doctrines of the New Testament these days believe ourselves to be in direct lineal descent from the apostles and true and legitimate offspring of the Early Church. Well, I believe there are today some who belong to the household of God, who are of the chosen generation and make up the royal priesthood and the holy nation of which Peter writes. They are found scattered among the churches where, we may as well admit, they are often a source of embarrassment to the mixed multitude that composes the membership. That much is true; but for us to assume that all evangelicals belong in the apostolic succession is to be too optimistic for our own good. So to believe suggests a disquieting parallel with those scribes and Pharisees of Jesus' day who claimed spiritual descent from Abraham because they could demonstrate that they were his physical offspring. "We be Abraham's seed," they boasted. Jesus replied by making a distinction. "I know that ye are Abraham's seed," He told them. "If ye were Abraham's children, ye would do the works of Abraham." In the same way as the Pharisees we may err gravely by assuming that we are children of God because we hold the creed of God. It most certainly does not follow. It is not physical descent that marks one a true child of Abraham, for Abraham is the father of such as have faith, and faith is not passed on by natural procreation. So it is not creedal descent that proves us to be true sons of Pentecost, but identity of spirit with them upon whose heads sat the cloven tongues like as of fire. One distinguishing mark of those first Christians was a supernatural radiance that shined out from within them. The sun had come up in their hearts and its warmth and light made unnecessary any secondary sources of assurance. They had the inner witness. They knew with an immediate awareness that required no jockeying of evidence to give them a feeling of certainty. Great power and great grace marked their lives, enabling them to rejoice to suffer shame for the name of Jesus.

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    It is obvious that the average evangelical Christian today is without this radiance. The efforts of some of our teachers to cheer up our drooping spirits are futile because those same teachers reject the very phenomenon that would naturally produce joy, namely, the inner witness. In their strange fear of the religious emotions they have explained away the Scriptures that teach this witness, such as, "The Spirit itself beareth witness" and "He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself." Instead of the inner witness we now substitute logical conclusions drawn from texts. A conversation between a seeker and a worker in an inquiry room is likely to run about like this: "Do you want the Lord to receive you and make you His child?" "Yes." "Well, read this: 'Him that cometh to me I will in no wise east out.' "Do you believe that?" "Yes?" "Now if He doesn't cast you out, what does He do?" "I suppose He takes me in." "Amen. Now He has taken you in and you are His child. Why don't you tell others about it?" So the bewildered seeker forces a waxy smile and testifies that he has been converted to Christ. He is honest and means well but he has been led astray. He has fallen victim to a Spiritless logic. Such assurance as he has rests upon a shaky syllogism. There is no witness, no immediacy of knowledge, no encounter with G